It appears that the Dieselgate scandal masterminded and perpetrated by Volkswagen AG isn’t limited with company, but also has affected, albeit indirectly, its fellow carmakers from Germany. In fact, automotive customers in the United States might not be able to buy new diesel models from German premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz (2017 model year).
Mercedes-Benz’ parent Daimler AG disclosed that it had dropped plans to have Mercedes’ diesel cars and engines certified in the US. Sans any certification, Mercedes-Benz cannot sell its diesel-powered 2017 premium vehicles in the country. Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman Rob Moran told Automotive News that the company is putting on hold the certification process for its diesel passenger cars in the US, as part of a review of the carmaker’s portfolio offerings.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t decided if it would totally exit from the American passenger diesel market, even though it would not be selling 2017 models in the region. However, given the current situation, an exodus from the American passenger diesel market in the future by Mercedes-Benz won’t be a surprise.
Authorities in the US – environmental regulators in particular – are increasingly becoming stricter when it comes to diesel-powered vehicles. It all started in September 2015 when Volkswagen AG admitted to committing the so-called Dieselgate emissions scandal. The German carmaker installed defeat software that was meant to circumvent emissions test. This software allowed around 580,000 VW’s US models to pass emissions tests, even though these vehicles actually emits emit up to 40 times the legally allowable emissions.
As a result of the Dieselgate scandal, VW has to cough up to $25 billion in the US to compensate affected vehicle owners and to pay hefty penalties from environmental regulators and states. Around non-fixable VW diesel vehicles were up for a massive buyback program.
The scandal, however, has opened doors for an intensive investigation into diesel models built by other carmakers. Daimler itself is being probed by authorities not only in the US, but also in its home country Germany. The US Department of Justice, US Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board and a prosecutor in Stuttgart, Germany, are some government authorities that are now looking into emissions of Mercedes vehicles. In March, the Stuttgart prosecutor opened a probe against Daimler’s employees who are suspected of committing fraud and misleading advertising related to vehicle emissions.
Just in April, Daimler remarked that investigations into diesel emissions and auxiliary emission control devices could result to hefty fines as well as recalls.
Daimler had planned to sell four Mercedes diesel vehicles (2017 model year) in the US – the same number of diesel models it offered in 2016. These 2016 models accounted for less than 1 percent of the carmaker’s US sales.
Daimler, however, could still have its diesel models certified in the US at a later date.